According to a study by G. L. Flett and P. L. Hewitt, neurotic perfectionism is motivated by the need for approval and parallels the conscientious compulsive variant of the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), which is not to be confused with the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Typically, OCPD individuals exhibit a conforming dependency and compliance to rules and authority, have a willing submission to the wishes, values, expectations and demands of others and have a strong sense of duty, which masks underlying feelings of personal inadequacy. They exhibit the fear of failing to perform perfectly, which would lead them to both condemnation and abandonment by other people.
Generally, a neurotic perfectionist is not a wimp, but is a wounded ego that is a casualty of societal pressures, poor parenting and possibly abuse. He is said to be conditioned and programmed to feel bad about himself and to accommodate and please other people. Here are examples of neurotic perfectionism:
It has been observed that some compulsives excel at concentrating that they cannot stop concentrating, even not being able to skim a page where they must scrutinize every word. Persons having this trait are said to be easily disturbed and distracted by external events or new information. Experts suggest that that this behavior might be related to social deficits and the inability to grasp a social situation’s emotional tone. This indicates a situation where attention deficit leads to social deficit to a point where an individual depends on trying to be perfect just to avoid social disapproval, isolation and rejection.
This type of perfectionism is all about morality and ethics, where a perfectionist feels very passionate about what he believes that he would run the risk of imposing his beliefs onto other people. Demanding nothing less of himself and striving for moral perfection, he would get into a situation where he would be really hard on himself and even become judgmental of others’ imperfections. A principled perfectionist could be close in parallel to a puritanical compulsive, who is generally characterized as uncompromising, self-righteous, indignant, zealous and dogmatic. He can also be paralleled to the so-called “world-oriented perfectionism”, which is defined as the belief that correct, precise and perfect solutions to all problems exist.
Contrary to common belief, a narcissist is not arrogant even if he acts as such, as simply, he does not feel good about himself. Typically, most narcissists are children of narcissists, who grow up with insecure parents, and just like the parents, perhaps, the only way for them to feel special is to insist on unquestioning compliance with their wishes from other people, command special treatment and demand nothing less than perfection from others. Clinically, this trait parallels the bureaucratic compulsive variant of OCPD. As the term implies, these individuals thrive on hierarchical superiority.
Generally, one thing is clear—whichever type of perfectionism you think you have, you have acquired it by accident. Whether you were merely thrown into a particular dysfunctional microcosm of your family or born into a macro-culture of Western perfectionism, your personality type is not given by a chance event. This means you can correct it one way or another.